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Erosive Esophagitis

By Michael C. DiMarino, MD, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University

Erosive esophagitis is a condition in which areas of the esophageal lining are inflamed and ulcerated.

The most common cause of erosive esophagitis is chronic acid reflux. Corrosive substances, such as cleaning solutions, can erode the esophagus if they are swallowed accidentally or deliberately. Some pills (for example, aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs], alendronate, doxycycline, tetracycline, and certain large iron and potassium tablets) can cause painful erosions if they lodge temporarily in the esophagus.

The diagnosis of erosive esophagitis is made by esophagoscopy (see Endoscopy). If a pill becomes stuck in the esophagus, it usually can be washed down with large quantities of water, and the pain often resolves within hours. Rarely, erosions caused by corrosive substances or pills persist, leading to narrowing of the esophagus.

* This is the Consumer Version. *